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In-house: In the fourth part of this series looking at the work of Aspiring Solicitors, an organisation aiming to increase diversity in the legal profession, Jonathon Tranter, vice-president and legal counsel in the operations, technology and commercial
legal team at Barclays, talks about what inspired him to become an ambassador and what he hopes he can give back to future lawyers.
What is your background?I am a lawyer within the operations, technology and commercial legal team at Barclays and have been with the bank for five years. There are around twenty lawyers in my team in the UK, but globally we have members
in New York, South Africa and Singapore. We provide support to all areas of the bank on commercial contracts, outsourcing agreements and technology deals - everything from the sponsorship of the Barclays Premier League through to the operation of
the cafes within Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf.The wider legal team at Barclays has over 1,000 lawyers globally. It is like a law firm in itself as we have specialist teams covering litigation, employment and competition, as well as lawyers that
specifically work for the different business units within Barclays (such as Barclaycard). Before joining Barclays I was a commercial lawyer at DLA Piper in Sheffield.
Why did you sign up to be a professional ambassador for Aspiring Solicitors?
I wanted to be able to provide advice and guidance to students aspiring to be lawyers. I also wanted to give support and answer questions to help them avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that I made in the early stages of my legal career (including the horrible
training contract applications). Giving back to help the next generation of lawyers is something I support and get involved in a lot through my role at Barclays. Being a professional ambassador is another avenue through which to do this.
In your opinion, what more could the in-house community be doing to support diversity?
I actually think that the in-house legal community is already pretty diverse. Certainly within Barclays, the legal function is made up of lawyers and support staff from all different walks of life and backgrounds. It's one of the many great things about
the legal function at Barclays, and indeed across the bank as a whole. One thing Barclays does to help the next generation of lawyers and foster diversity in the profession is to support organisations like Aspiring Solicitors that have a strong ethos
on helping those from 'non-traditional' backgrounds with breaking into the profession. Barclays' support includes running work experience weeks, networking events and CV writing clinics. I think it would be great if more large in-house teams that
have the resources and connections with law firms provided similar support and opportunities.
What top three legal and/or soft skills do you think are important for aspiring in-house lawyers?
Time and diary management is a key skill and requires learning what to prioritise and when. My life as a lawyer in-house is more demanding in terms of stakeholder management than it was when I was in private practice, and so being able to manage my time
effectively has become crucial.I often find myself interacting with stakeholders who are new to dealing with the sort of work I do (for exam-ple, negotiating a contract) and so it can take longer to go through and explain points than it might
do with a commercial client when in private practice. Patience is therefore incredibly important.Jargon busting is a key skill for an in-house lawyer. You need to be able to distil legal jargon into easy to understand terminology for non-legal
stakeholders and do it in a concise way.
As an ambassador, how do you support and encourage aspiring solicitors to gain and improve skills such as leadership, teamwork, networking and communication?
I'm fairly new to being a professional ambassador so I haven't had opportunities to support these skills through my ambassador role yet. However, at Barclays I have been involved in and organised a number of events, including negotiation workshops, CV
writing seminars and 'afternoon tea' events designed to enable students to network with legal professionals in a relatively informal way. This helps them build confidence and see that lawyers are just people too.
Which conferences, networking events and publications would you recommend to aspiring in-house lawyers?
I would encourage aspiring in-house lawyers to go to as many training and networking events as possible and to sign up for as many opportunities as they can. You never know who you might meet, the contacts you might make and what areas you might learn
about and have your interest piqued in. Read the legal press for what's happening in the legal profession - regularly read one of the main broadsheets to keep abreast of what is happening in the economy and world politics (as a student applying for
training contracts, you're likely to get asked a question on current events and your 'commercial awareness'). If you're interested in a particular sector or industry then try to read something in that area to help keep up-to-date on the latest developments.More information about Aspiring Solicitors can be found here.
This interview is taken from Lexis PSL In-house, request a free trial here.
Interviewed by Helen Redding.The views expressed by our Legal Analysis interviewees are not necessarily those of the proprietor.
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Sophie is Head of Learning & Development at F-LEX Legal - an award winning legal tech startup helping law firms and organisations manage a flexible work force and supporting lawyers to make smarter life/work choices.
As part of her portfolio career Sophie runs various learning and development and networking forums for in-house lawyers and mentors junior lawyers. These include Flying Solo for small and solo legal teams and Aspire for junior in-house lawyers which she runs for LexisNexis UK. She also works with schools and organisations to promote social mobility within the legal profession, working with The Social Mobility Business Partnership and Aspiring Solicitors.
She trained as a lawyer in the City and worked as an in-house lawyer for 10 years including as Head of Legal for Virgin Radio and Ginger Media Group.
Outside of work she is happily married with three sons and enjoys morning walks along the beach with her two dogs.
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